Wimmera Parkinson's Support Group celebrates 25th birthday

MEMBERS of the Wimmera’s Parkinson’s Support Group celebrated the group’s 25th birthday on Friday.

Founding secretary Cynthia Hicks was honoured at the group’s annual meeting in the morning, which was followed by lunch at the White Hart Hotel.

Parkinson’s Victoria vice-president Andrew Suggett was the guest speaker.

Mrs Hicks said the group was pleased to welcome him to Horsham.

“He’s very knowledgeable because he has Parkinson’s himself,” she said.

Mrs Hicks said she had been on a steep learning curve since joining the group in 1989.

“My late brother-in-law Alex had Parkinson’s disease,” she said.

“I knew absolutely nothing about it at the time, but it was a pretty quick wake-up call.”

Mrs Hicks said the group provided emotional and social support to sufferers of Parkinson’s disease, their families and friends.

She was one of three original members at the birthday lunch, along with Valda Leslie and Andreé Coutts.

“Mrs Leslie’s husband Maurice Leslie was the first president,” she said.

“He started the group and was very knowledgeable because he was a hospital manager.

“He was fantastic.”

The Parkinson’s Support Group meets on the first Friday of alternate even months.

“We usually bring and share lunch and there is a guest speaker,” Mrs Hicks said.

“We get information from Parkinson’s Victoria, which is discussed at our meetings.”

Mrs Hicks said the disease affected people differently.

“Some lose their voice, others get tremors,” she said.

“People also deal with it in different ways.”

Mrs Hicks was honoured for her outstanding contribution to the Parkinson’s community in 2011.

She received Parkinson’s Victoria’s highest individual honour, the Sir Zelman Cowen award.

The award is named in honour of former Governor-General Sir Zelman Cowen, who held office from 1977 to 1982 and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in the early 1990s.

Mrs Hicks said the group was important to members and had a special place in her heart.

“I always tell my family there are two organisations I hope to hang on to,” she said.

“One is my church, St Augustine’s, and the other is this group.”

St Augustine’s Anglican Church in Kaniva celebrated its 125th anniversary on Sunday.

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